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Saudi oil attacks came from southwest Iran, U.S. official says, raising tensions

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By Phil Stewart and Parisa Hafezi

The United States believes the attacks that crippled Saudi Arabian oil facilities last weekend originated in southwestern Iran, a U.S. official told Reuters on Tuesday, an assessment that further increases tension in the Middle East.

Three officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the attacks involved both cruise missiles and drones, indicating that they involved a higher degree of complexity and sophistication than initially thought.

The officials did not provide evidence or explain what U.S. intelligence they were using for the evaluations. Such intelligence, if shared publicly, could further pressure Washington, Riyadh and others to respond, perhaps even militarily.

Iran denies involvement in the strikes. Iran's allies in Yemen's civil war, the Houthi movement, claimed responsibility for the attacks. The Houthis say they struck the plants with drones, some of which were powered by jet engines.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said it looked as if Iran - which has a long history of friction with neighbor Saudi Arabia - was behind the attacks.

But in a sign that U.S. allies remain unconvinced, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he was unsure if anyone had any evidence to say whether drones "came from one place or another."

Saudi Arabia sought to reassure markets after the attack on Saturday halved oil output, saying on Tuesday that full production would be restored by month's end.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out talks with the United States unless the Trump administration returns to the nuclear accord between Iran and the West that the United States abandoned last year.

"Iranian officials, at any level, will never talk to American officials ... this is part of their policy to put pressure on Iran," Iranian state TV quoted him as saying.

Trump on Tuesday said he is not looking to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a U.N. event in New York this month.

U.S.-Iran relations deteriorated after Trump quit the nuclear pact and reimposed sanctions over Tehran's nuclear and ballistic programs, severely hurting the Iranian economy. Trump also wants Iran to stop supporting regional proxies, including Yemen's Houthis.

Iran's clerical rulers openly support the Houthis, who are fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, but Tehran denies that it actively supports the Yemeni group with military and financial support.

Despite years of air strikes against them, the Houthi militia boasts drones and missiles able to reach deep into Saudi Arabia, the result of an armament campaign pursued and expanded energetically since Yemen's war began four years ago.

Strains between Washington and Tehran have risen more in recent months after attacks on tankers in the Gulf that the United States blames on Tehran, and Iran's downing of a U.S. military drone that prompted preparations for a retaliatory air strike that Trump says he called off at the last minute.

Saudi Arabia has asked international experts to join its investigation, which indicates the attacks did not come from Yemen, the Saudi foreign ministry said.

One of the three U.S. officials expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia's collection of materials following the attacks would yield "compelling forensic evidence ... that will point to where this attack came from."

A U.S. team is helping Saudi Arabia evaluate evidence from the attacks, which hit crucial facilities of Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco in Abqaiq and Khurais and initially cut Saudi oil production in half.

The Saudi energy minister said on Tuesday that the kingdom will achieve 11 million barrels per day (bpd) capacity by the end of September.

Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman also told a news conference that the world's top oil exporter would keep full oil supplies to customers this month.

He said Saudi Arabia would keep its role as the secure supplier of global oil markets, adding that the kingdom needed to take strict measures to prevent further attacks, which exposed the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia's oil industry and the broader global economy.

Oil prices fell 5% after the news that Saudi production is back, having surged more than 20% at one point on Monday - the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

A day after warning that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond to the Saudi incident, Trump dialed down his rhetoric, saying on Monday there was "no rush" to do so and that Washington was coordinating with Gulf Arab and European states.

"I'm not looking at options right now. We want to find definitively who did this," Trump said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was traveling to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the Iran nuclear pact, which European parties are trying to salvage, is one building block "we need to get back to".

Saudi Arabia, which has supported tougher U.S. sanctions on Iran, said an initial investigation showed the strikes were carried out with Iranian weapons.

Galip Dalay, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Doha Center think tank, said the sophistication of the attacks and the fact such an operation would require high-level approval pointed at Tehran.

"Iran is essentially saying, 'If I can't get my oil into international markets, then no one should be able to do it'," he said. "They are basically looking to destabilize an international market that they have been cut out of by U.S. sanctions."

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

42 Comments

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More WMD. Once fooled, twice shy!

7 ( +11 / -4 )

Will Australia join the drumbeat go war?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Chip Star: "Will Australia join the drumbeat go war?"

Of course, Slogan ScoMo will do has he is told.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Over the past few decades, Saudi Arabia has been America’s worst nightmare. Not Russia, not China, not Iran, not North Korea. All of them are frankly pipsqueaks compared to the damage Saudi Arabia has done to American interests.

The theological terrorists who control religion in the Kingdom have been exporting their murderous anti-Americanism for decades. Their citizens were behind 9/11 and they bear a fair amount of responsibility for the rise of ISIS as well. They’ve been fighting Yemen forever and their current war has included endless atrocities—which Geraghty generously suggests were merely “botched” operations.¹ Internally they’re as repressive a regime as you can imagine, even more so than Iran. Just recently they murdered a critic and then carved him up with a bone saw to get rid of the evidence. They are forever trying to get America to lay down American lives in their endless proxy wars against Shiite Iran.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

Saudi Arabia sought to reassure markets after the attack on Saturday halved oil output, saying on Tuesday that full production would be restored by month's end.

Then expect SA (whether backed up by its allies or not) will move against Iranian targets next month.

RLPerez, this is not WMDs, evidence exists in the form of damage, the only '?' is who, and it isn't difficult to establish origin of missiles. Trying on the WMD deadhorse is showing desperation. Not to mention ignorant of the fact everyone knows and understand Saddam was removed for his shift away from the petro dollar.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Sh1mon M4sada: "evidence exists".

Evidence existed for WMD, just ask Powel and Bush.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Trump, when Obama was President:

"Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth-$ trillion!"

Trump as current President:

"Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!"

(end)

Did he misplace his spine or something?

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Of course, Slogan ScoMo will do has he is told.

Glad to see you understand to whom your country answers. What's it like being from a country that answers to my country? Seems to me it would be somewhat emasculating.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

RLPerez, this is not WMDs, evidence exists in the form of damage, the only '?' is who, and it isn't difficult to establish origin of missiles. Trying on the WMD deadhorse is showing desperation. Not to mention ignorant of the fact everyone knows and understand Saddam was removed for his shift away from the petro dollar.

They told us they had proof of WMDs. They weren't telling us 'we think they may have some WMDs, so we're going to invade them and have a gander'. Bush told us that without doubt the Iraqis had WMDs, and that because the weapons inspectors couldn't find them, it meant the Iraqis were not cooperating with the weapons inspectors. This was used as the basis for the invasion of Iraq. Their "proof" of the WMDs.

Hard to take the word of the US, particularly in the age of Trump, when it comes to their president telling us they have "proof" that something happened.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

The real problem here is that we have no idea now if Trump is telling the truth or not. Everything he is saying could be 100% truth with no bias whatsoever. But between the fact that he clearly doesn't know what he is talking about on subjects roughly 50% of the time, and knowingly speaks falsehoods another 30-40% of the time, and between the USAs previous lies about the WMDs, it's impossible to tell.

What is the cost of lies? It’s not that we will mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that, if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

One of the three U.S. officials expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia's collection of materials following the attacks would yield "compelling forensic evidence ... that will point to where this attack came from."

Yep. Just give them a few days to put it together.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Chip Star: " What's it like being from a country that answers to my country?"

"We're a bit like HK here; we vote for an Australian PM who reports to Washington. Slogan ScoMo will be in Washington next month to receive his latest orders from Trump.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out talks with the United States unless the Trump administration returns to the nuclear accord between Iran and the West that the United States abandoned last year.

The whole world is watching this school yard bully who loves to start fights, but capitulates at the first resistance. He should never have renounced the nuclear treaty with Iran. The genie is out of the bottle and it's going to be next to impossible to put it back in.

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The officials did not provide evidence or explain what U.S. intelligence they were using for the evaluations. Such intelligence, if shared publicly, could further pressure Washington, Riyadh and others to respond, perhaps even militarily.

Yep, thats sounds super credible. Unnamed officials and unexplained evaluation without hard evidence. Fool me once...

5 ( +5 / -0 )

*One of the three U.S. officials expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia's collection of materials following the attacks would yield "compelling forensic evidence ... that will point to where this attack came from."*

Yep. Just give them a few days to put it together.

Indeed, it does take a day or two for the Iranian flag stickers ordered from Amazon to arrive and be put on the 'missile wreckage.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Glad to see you understand to whom your country answers. What's it like being from a country that answers to my country? Seems to me it would be somewhat emasculating.

The US is clearly at the end of its cycle of power, just a matter of time before the US dollar loses its status as the world's currency, and loses the ability to dominate smaller countries. Nothing to be proud of, either way. If one's masculinity depends on one's government, I would guess that masculinity was pretty tenuous to begin with.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Funny all these people questioning the motives of the CIA. What happened? It wasn't that long ago that many of the same commenters found it treasonous that Trump questioned the CIA. Can someone explain?

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Everyone, even Iran, knows that returning to the previous deal is the best thing.

Except that doing the right thing would require Trump admit that he and the USA did the wrong thing by canceling it in the first place.

I have more hope of the Christian god suddenly proving his existence than I do of Trump admitting he and the USA did the wrong thing.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

I'm wondering how one's government being 'emasculating' is supposed to affect women...

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Funny all these people questioning the motives of the CIA. What happened? It wasn't that long ago that many of the same commenters found it treasonous that Trump questioned the CIA. Can someone explain?

Same as Bush and the CIA with the Iraq debacle. The CIA gave Bush their intelligence. He and his cronies sold us a lie, telling us they had proof, when the evidence they were given was not dependable, and they had been told as much.

Now we have Trump and team telling us they have "intelligence" that it was Iran. How can we believe that they aren't just making false claims based on knowingly flimsy evidence again?

What is the cost of lies? It's not that we'll mistake them for the truth. The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

"...Oil prices fell 5% after the news that Saudi production is back, having surged more than 20% at one point on Monday - the biggest intra-day jump since the 1990-91 Gulf crisis over Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait...."

As I alluded to on yesterdays article - someone is making millions out of this.

Nice little futures market bonus pocketed.

And the disruption just keeps the price of oil in "fear" territory whereby the money machine just keeps on keeping on - aka the war machine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@browny1

As I alluded to on yesterdays article - someone is making millions out of this.

One side of a trade always make money :-). The fact the Saudis expedited restoration demonstrates they want to minimise volatility, ie minimise trading profits. Or they could be trying to shore up supply to lay the ground work for retaliatory strike against Iran, causing even greater uncertainty and hence volatility :-)....follow the money trail heh.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Now we have Trump and team telling us they have "intelligence" that it was Iran. How can we believe that they aren't just making false claims based on knowingly flimsy evidence again?

Well, I am with you on that. I believe, as did JFK, Patrick Moynihan and many other thoughtful people, that the CIA should be disbanded. The are a massive secret agency accountable to nobody - and that has no place in any society.

My question, though, was why so many here were touting the CIA as great patriots keeping Americans safe, and calling Trump a traitor for taking them on. Now, that Trump seems to be under their control, they have flipped back.

Americans should be up in arms over the massive secret state they live under, but they rarely seem to notice unless it fits in with their smaller political views.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Trump needs to strike a deal with the Iranians. Do some cosmetic changes, give it a new name, tell his followers to cheer, and end this.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Glad to see you understand to whom your country answers. What's it like being from a country that answers to my country? Seems to me it would be somewhat emasculating.

Strange word to use, emasculating. We have women here, you know - one of them is currently Foreign Minister. She used to be Defence (that's how we spell it here) Minister. I doubt she feels "emasculated".

I'd prefer to use words like embarrassing to describe Australia's constant long-term toadying to the US of A. You could also call it sycophantic, fawning, desperate - there's quite a choice.

Our current PM Scott Morrison arrives in the US this weekend for a Kim Jong-Un style date with Donald Trump - we will almost certainly come out of it having made some utterly unnecessary and ill-advised commitment to the advancement of Trump's world agenda.

I won't ask you how you feel about having a Prez like Trump - I reckon emasculation is the least of your worries there.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

My question, though, was why so many here were touting the CIA as great patriots keeping Americans safe, and calling Trump a traitor for taking them on. Now, that Trump seems to be under their control, they have flipped back.

My answer was that we DON'T know Trump is under their control. It's as equally plausible, if not probable, that just like Bush, he took whatever he was told, and decided to make his own story of it.

You seem to be making the conclusion that Trump has somehow suddenly been subverted by the intelligence agencies, when there is nothing to indicate that is the case whatsoever.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

12,000 lies and counting - anything Donnie says is likely a load of BS...

If Mattis, was still around and said this, I'd take him at his word, but the current crop of sycophants would lie for Donnie in a heartbeat...

Botttom-line - don't let the Repubs drag us into a third Middle East war....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I don't care who did it. Its none of the U.S. government's damn business. U.S. government, go home, sit down and shuddup.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries have their own armies. Saudi buys US armaments. I can see why the US is salivating over a potential conflict. The iron dome Saudi bought from the US to counter aerial assault of missiles must not have been up to snuff.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The attack came from within Iraq and were missiles not drones.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Then expect SA (whether backed up by its allies or not) will move against Iranian targets next month.

Yeah, that was perhaps the reason for the attacks....

Evidence existed for WMD, just ask Powel and Bush.

Yeah, "irrefutable" evidence. BTW, how were those liars punished????

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Lied right off the bat about crowd size at the inauguration, just lied about weather maps, and has lied about everything else between the two. Why would anyone trust anything this man says? Ironic, lived a life so puffed up on status and wealth yet he is completely worthless as a person now. He must go, one way or the other.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Saudi oil attacks came from southwest Iran, ****U.S. official says

It would be easier to believe this if it didn't say "U.S. official says".

U.S. officials are lying about friggin' weather reports these days, so why should anybody believe that they're telling the truth about this? What's up is down and what's down is up.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Over the past few decades, Saudi Arabia has been America’s worst nightmare. Not Russia, not China, not Iran, not North Korea. All of them are frankly pipsqueaks compared to the damage Saudi Arabia has done to American interests.

Very well put. With that ruthless bone-saw-prince in charge I wouldn't be surprised if the Saudi's blew up the facilities themselves. It's a win-win situation. They will bring the US aboard for a war with Iran and the oil price goes up.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The WH believes the attacks originated from Iran.

We have realized over the last 3 years that the WH is clueless about most things, they parrot whatever Donny fantasizes on the toilet bowl the night before.

There's very little follow up proof about killing Laden Jr, and there's absolutely no proof on this claim either.

Now that Donny has lost all hope of getting a Nobel Peace Prize, he wants to drag us into a war and its better we don't make the mistake we made 16 years ago,

3 ( +4 / -1 )

You seem to be making the conclusion that Trump has somehow suddenly been subverted by the intelligence agencies,

I never said anything of the kind.

It seems I am not going to get an answer to the question, so I'll offer my own. The same people who don't trust the CIA here were very happy to call them trustworthy and essential patriots when they were at odds with Trump. They are allowing these secret agencies to take over the country because they care more about petty politics than the future of the country. Like "lincolnman" above. Eight years of expanding war under Obama and the Democrats, and he is only against wars caused by Republicans. That's not anti-war, that's not anything. The same with the massive spy apparatus in the US. Either one is appalled by it or one is a tool of it (or an employee of it).

The truth of it is that the anti-Trumpers are no different than the "Obama is a secret, gay, Muslim from Kenya" crowd. Trapped in an obsession over one man while the secret state apparatus thrives and grows.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Oil facilities in Saudi Arabia attacked, North Korea continues to build nukes, the Bahamas needs much more help after the hurricane, the China trade war gets worse, nothing gets done with gun control...

Trump supporters: Aren't you glad we have a leader that takes charge...

Trump: Stand out of my way, I'll drive the golf cart today...

4 ( +5 / -1 )

You seem to be making the conclusion that Trump has somehow suddenly been subverted by the intelligence agencies,

.

I never said anything of the kind.

What? Yes you did:

*My question, though, was why so many here were touting the CIA as great patriots keeping Americans safe, and calling Trump a traitor for taking them on. Now, that Trump seems to be under their control, they have flipped back.*

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It seems I am not going to get an answer to the question

The question:

My question, though, was why so many here were touting the CIA as great patriots keeping Americans safe, and calling Trump a traitor for taking them on.

Ignoring the rhetoric of your question, the CIA is there to protect American interests. Trump, who is supposed to be working with their intel to protect the country, instead took them on, even though he's a proven liar, cheat, adulterer, and well scum.

So to answer your question, that's why we called Trump a traitor for taking them on.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Strangerland: No I didn't. "Seems to be under their control" is a qualified statement, and I was referring to how things seem to others. Saying Trump "has been subverted" not only lack the qualifying "seems" but adds completely new meaning in the use of the word "subverted." Neither you nor I nor anybody else on this site know exactly what Trump's relationship is with the CIA.

Ignoring the rhetoric of your question, the CIA is there to protect American interests. 

That is at the crux of it. I think the CIA has a lot of interests that have nothing to do with the welfare of most Americans - including many interests that are at odds with the interests of most Americans. And we have know way of knowing, because they are secret. Snowden gave us a peek behind the curtain, and it's not flattering. Many others have covered the CIA in detail. It is essentially a rogue government within the government.

Whatever you think of Trump, if you have your eyes open, you would appreciate anyone challenging the CIA. It's not as though liars, cheaters and adulterers are uncommon in politics. In fact, lying is part of the CIA's job description.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I won't even get into how the usage of words like traitor, treason and even patriot suggest a certain element of brainwashing when used outside of wartime references. But every time is wartime for the USA these days, eh?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

@Strangerland: No I didn't. "Seems to be under their control" is a qualified statement, and I was referring to how things seem to others.

No one else said it seemed that way except you. And you were questioning why we previously criticized Trump, contrasting it with some reason you felt made that a flip-flop. If you weren't claiming Trump to be under the control of the USA, there would literally be no premise behind your question. Your question would then be:

Why did you previously criticize Trump for attacking the CIA, when he now wants to attack Iran?

That would make no sense. The only way your question makes sense is if you meant that Trump was now under the control of the CIA.

That said, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and answer your question:

We criticized Trump on attacking the CIA for the reasons I gave in the last post. We are attacking Trump now because "it appears" he's trying to start a war with Iran.

What a weird question you asked though. It was a grammatical mess.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

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